Tom Keighley

Member Article

Housing benefit bill should fund new builds

4,466 new homes could be built in the North East each year for just half the amount spent on housing benefit, say the GMB union.

The suggestion was aired at the GMB Congress in Plymouth, where there were calls for a break in housing policy to allow for new houses with affordable rents.

The union claim that in County Durham, 790 new homes could be built each year for half of the £175.3m spent on housing benefit in the area. Similar examples were laid out for Newcastle, Northumberland, North Tyneside and Hartlepool, among other North East areas.

Tommy Brennan, GMB Regional Secretary, said “Half the cash spent in The North East Region on housing benefit last year would fund 4,466 new homes each year in the region.

“Housing benefits to meet housing costs for rented accommodation for those on low incomes is a Thatcher Tory policy. The cost has ballooned to £23bn per year.

“Over the past 30 years a huge slice of the £411bn of taxpayer’s funds spent on this Tory policy has been funnelled to private landlords as “corporate” welfare. Labour’s traditional and more cost effective policy of building good quality houses to let at affordable rent for those on low incomes was ditched. Much of the stock of social housing that was sold off is now in the hands of “buy to rent” private landlords.

“In Wandsworth for example there are 977 private landlords who own more than one of the 6,180 ex council leasehold homes sold under the “right to buy” which are now owned by “buy to let” landlords.

“One private landlord owns 93, another owns 32, another 15 landlords each own 10 or more and a further 83 landlords each own between 5 and 9 of these dwellings. Many of their tenants are in receipt of housing benefit rather than being charged affordable rents.”

In 2011/12 a total of £23bn was spent on housing benefit in England, Wales and Scotland.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Tom Keighley .

Explore these topics

Enjoy the read? Get Bdaily delivered.

Sign up to receive our popular North East morning email for free.

* Occasional offers & updates from selected Bdaily partners

Our Partners

Top Ten Most Read